Monday, July 25, 2011

First Battle of Mesilla, Arizona

Eastern Confederate ArizonaImage via Wikipedia
Eastern Confederate Arizona
  • With his troops’ three months’ military enlistment expiring, US Gen. Robert Patterson is relieved of duty in the Shenandoah Valley, having failed to hold Joseph Johnston in Winchester, Virginia, and prevent him from moving east to support Beauregard at Manassas (Bull Run)./1861
  • Falling in line with the Lincoln Administration, the US Congress approves the use of volunteers to put down the rebellion. Also, the US Senate passes by a vote of 30-5 the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution offered by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, which states the reason for war and invasion of the South is preservation of the Union and the Constitution, not to interfere with the institution of slavery as it is established. The measure is important in keeping Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland in the Union. Although the measure passes in Congress, it means little because within two weeks, President Lincoln will sign a confiscation act, allowing for the seizure of property—including slaves—from rebellious citizens. /1861
  • Missouri continues to convulse with unrest. Fighting breaks out at Harrisville and Dug Springs. US Major General John C. Fremont assumes command of the Department of the West at St. Louis./1861
  • At Mesilla, capital of the self-proclaimed Confederate Arizona Territory in the Federal Territory of New Mexico, a battalion of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles under Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor, on their “buffalo hunt” to drive out Union sympathy in the New Mexico Territory, fight the First Battle of Mesilla in the vicinity of Fort Fillmore. If they can force Federal troops out of the Southwest, they can open New Mexico to Confederate control. Baylor leads his battalion across the Rio Grande into Mesilla, to the cheers of the population. A company of Arizona Confederates join Baylor here, and are mustered into the Confederate Army. Meanwhile at Fort Fillmore near Mesilla, Major Isaac Lynde, of the 7th US Infantry, leaves a small force behind to guard the fort, and leads 380 Regulars to the village of Messilla to drive out Baylor. Lynde approaches the town and demands Baylor's surrender. When Baylor refuses, Lynde deploys his men into a skirmish line and opens fire with his mountain howitzers. The infantry is ordered to advance but heavy sand and corn fields interfere with his attack. Lynde then orders his cavalry, three companies of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles, to charge Baylor's men. The Confederates managed to shoot many of the Union soldiers, disorganizing the attack, and repulsing the Union assault. Both sides begin skirmishing at long range as Lynde reforms his command and decides to retreat to the fort with Baylor’s Texans and armed Arizona citizens in pursuit. Lynde loses between 3 and 13 men killed plus 2 officers and 4 men wounded, while Baylor’s losses are between 2 and 7 dead and 7 seriously wounded with twenty horses killed./1861
  • John LaMountain begins balloon reconnaissance ascensions at Fortress Monroe, Virginia./1861

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